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PM Office conceals Covid-19 financial report

Business

Mohloai Mpesi

After refuting media claims that the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) has gulped a whopping M1.5 Billion on imperceptible response initiatives against the Covid-19 pandemic, the Prime Minister’s Office has concealed what it terms the Covid-19 detailed financial report it promised to the media at a press conference last week.

During the media briefing, the Office’s many departments sough to set the record straight on what they dubbed inaccurate media reports after a local weekly publication published a report from the Auditor General’s office which highlights the same M1.5 Billion.

In refuting the claim, the public officers had pointed out that they had only used a fraction of the initial M698 Million set aside for the fight against Covid-19 even before the first case was ever reported in the country. They had even promised to avail a detailed report substantiating their stance forthwith.

However, a week later the promised report is still unavailable as Office of the Prime Minister is now playing hide-and-seek with the media.

Newsday has practically gone on a wild-goose chase trying to get the report as the various departments sent this reporter from pillar to post from PM’s spokesperson Mosito Moqhekoana to the Principal Secretary Cabinet Admin, Liphoto.

After much dilly-dallying, Liphoto eventually refused to release the report.

Last week on January 20, the office of the Prime Minister tag-teamed with the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) in a media briefing held at Manthabiseng Conversion Centre where the PS cabinet Economic Affairs Kabelo Lehora and PM’s office spokesperson Mosito Moqhekoana swore to furnish the media fraternity with a detailed financial report anytime they ask for it.

This reporter has been pursuing the detailed report until this week when Liphoto denied furnishing this publication with a detailed report which he said is available and can be provided to media anytime.      

“The report is not ready for public consumption; it is not a final report which can be publicised. We are still working on the report and it will be publicly broadcasted in due time,” Liphoto said.

“The one that we have now was made to address and clarify the issues which were already spoken in the media platforms,” he said adding that more transaction is piling up.

“Right now is not the right time to publish it because many activities are happening such as the purchase for oxygen at the hospitals. We can’t reveal it now as there are transactions that need to be recorded. Again, the government report cannot be publicised like that, there are procedures that need to be followed until its time. You can’t just say give me the report.

“In fact, there is a work that I am still doing right now and you are disturbing me,” he said hanging up the phone.

Last week the office reported that 86% of the availed money to pay for medical purposes and salaries of hired health professionals as well as the temporary health practitioners had been used. He further explained that the remaining 14% was used to pay for salaries of NACOSEC, health professionals as well as on fuel and printing expenditure.   

He also stated that the difference between M341 848 40 78 million and M293 813 559 46, was used for transportation purposes as well as airtime.

“In M341 848 40 78 millions, 293 813 559 46 was used to pay the first aid which include treatment and also paying the quarantine centres, while the airtime and fuel expenditures were M259 628 707 84 million,” he said.

“86% of the money has been used to help the Covid-19 patients. This money has also been used to pay temporary and all time health practitioners. The remaining 14% was used to pay other health practitioners who are not under Ministry of Health, also including fuel and transport as well as printing expenditure,” he said.

Asked to produce a detailed and consolidated financial report, the Principal Secretary of Cabinet Economic Affairs, Kabelo Lehora said the detailed report which elucidates the usage of the money will be made available at the office for public consumption.  f

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